Fear vs. Terror
During 9/11, I had the great fortune of being in Hawaii with Tony Robbins for his Life Mastery event. Ironically, it was scheduled to be Emotional Day. It was 3:00 AM when the phone rang. It was my boyfriend's brother. He said "turn on the TV. There's been a terrorist attack."
I think it's safe to say fear was an issue most people were there to address even before 9/11 happened. But, I don't think anyone could have prepared for what happened that day. Fear, coupled with deep sadness, was visibly present, and rightfully so.
As part of every event, Tony strongly encourages attendees to participate in an exercise designed to help them face their fears. In this particular event, the task was to climb a telephone pole.
It was my team's day to climb, and I remember standing there asking myself, how am I going to get out of this? How am I going to tell my boyfriend there was no way I was going to climb that pole? When suddenly, there was this roar from one of the poles behind me. I turned to see what all the commotion was about, and low and behold, it was Charles, and he was climbing the pole!
Charles was in a motorized wheelchair with visible scars on both his arms and legs. My first thought was, now, what am I going to say? Thankfully, I had a second thought which was OMG...it’s Charles. Good for him!!! I instantly knew the universe had other plans for me. So, I walked over, got myself harnessed, put my helmet on, and began my climb.
At first, I was just trying to figure out the logistics, but as I got higher and higher, the fear started to creep in. Once I was on the top, I began trembling uncontrollably, and it occurred to me that there was a distinct difference between fear and terror. I thought if I could get my legs to move, my only goal would be to get back on the ground! I knew I'd need to make a decision. I could stay up there and keep experiencing more terror, or I could leap and feel something different. I leaped.
When my feet touched the ground, I thought to myself...I totally just ate that pole! The safety team gave me my pin that said so, and I walked away, still shaking. It took me days to stop feeling that way. To this day, I'm still overwhelmed with gratitude for the experience. I know now that I can eat the pole.
What did I learn about myself on the pole that day? Fear only made me anxious, but I was still able to climb. Terror, on the other hand, rendered me incapable. My fear paralyzed me for those few moments. It wasn't until I could steady myself enough to change my thoughts that I was able to find the faith I needed to leap. More importantly, there was no correlation between my fear and any reality I'd convinced myself of. These lessons have become invaluable to me.
So, what are you afraid of? What's holding you back from leaping? What do you believe will happen once you take action?
The answers to these questions can be terrifying. However, the level of fear we experience around making a change can often be much more significant than the effort it would take or the consequence we think we'll face.